There is a scene at the start of Fury Road that chimed with me all the way through the film and still now sticks in my craw. The raggedy, frail and dehydrated-to-the-point-of-death people of the Citadel wait with baited breath as Immortan Joe gives the signal for the War Boys to release gallon upon gallon of water. When it is released it is received with a mad frenzy and the citizens clamber over each other to savour every last drop. This is exactly how I felt with each second that I saw of Fury Road. I have been waiting for a film like this for a long time, and how sweet it feels to take a long, cold drink of it.
George Miller is back. Back to pumping adrenaline, back to creating magical carnage, edge of seats, fire and metal, and back with Max, his spirit partner. It may be a new actor, but it is the same Max. The Max that lives to make mistakes, that while handy with his fists and even handier with his wits, is addicted to walking into trouble. Whenever Max is handed a gift, he refuses it and seems to be looking for his next beating, his next crisis, or his fated lonely death. Max is a man of the old world, a man of precious few words and only cares about doing the right thing when it suits him. This is Max as James Bond has been, new feet in the shoes, but the very same shoes we last saw in 1985, Beyond the Thunderdome.
No one shoots the road like Miller, he seems to be the only man capable of getting right down to the cement and dirt and tracking every pebble, every grain of sand. You feel the road, it feels dangerous and untamed, like a fire, but Miller has it in his hands, and uses it so well.
The stunts in this film are absolutely breath-taking. Cars flip, flop, explode and crash – men do the same. CG is utilised of course, but aside from one sequence, it doesn’t suffocate and overbear, in fact in compliments, just as it should. The production design is staggeringly good (must surely be rewarded come Oscar time). All costumes and vehicles are unique, and the jaw-dropping Citadel (with the hundreds of tint workers moving every gear) is a sight to behold.
Fury Road is a remarkable achievement of film making, and proof that you can come back after 30 years and still be accomplished. This more than makes up for every return to old franchises that we have been let down by in the last 10 years. Miller cares and it shows. Every detail is important and so many things in this film could be taken from any of the previous three.
The actors are all fantastic, Hardy is a brilliant Max and has the same gritty, animalistic presence of Gibson’s, acting with his eyes, accompanied by occasional monosyllabic mutterings. Theron’s Furiosa is the star of the show. She owns the film and has a truly electric presence. Nicholas Hoult is a real delight as the frustrated Nux – a man obsessed with fulfilling his destiny. Lovely touch to have Hugh Keays-Byrne as the villain (he also played the Toecutter in the original Max) Immortan Joe – the King of the Citadel who is worshipped by so many, and who Furiosa has betrayed. He is a particularly menacing and horrible looking character – another triumph of production design.
The soundtrack by Junkie XL is also a delight, tribal drums, ripping guitars and some delicate, heartfelt strings.
As a long standing fan of Dr. George Miller, I cannot describe how happy I am to have him back and feel his passion again. His hibernation is well and truly over, and he seems hungrier than ever.
Go and see it, they will make more if you go and see it. GO. NOW.